My Life With Gracie…Bessie’s Self-Portrait

Bessie's Self-Portrait

This post is next in a sequence which began with a previous post about Bessie that you may want to read as well.

For some of you, it may be a stretch to believe chickens really can dance ballet. Then you realize dancing is nothing more than making movements to music, and it seems quite possible. Even so, it may be more difficult to believe chickens really can prepare delicious recipes in the kitchen…or draw recipe pictures afterwards.

Remember though, love makes a great number of unbelievable things quite believable.

This is why it was a real treat to watch Bessie and Gracie working together on their recipe drawing. You may remember Bessie wanted her recipes to have drawings anyone, even a child, could follow.

They worked very well together on this project. As an observer of the baking adventure, Gracie was able to divide everything into the “big parts,” and then as a chef, Bessie was able to add the details or the “little parts.”

Even Pearl, who is usually very rambunctious, watched with calm curiosity by Bessie’s side, not wanting “steal the show” as she so often is inclined to do. Yes, love makes a great number of unbelievable things quite believable!

They used the stiff gray cardboard from the back of an old sketch pad of mine and an assortment of leftover stubby pencils. The cardboard held up much better than paper would have, and the shorter pencils where easier to hold in their beaks.

They outlined, sometimes heavy, sometimes light. They made different sizes of specks for shading, sometimes big, sometimes small. (Chickens love specks. Even as little chicks, they will peck at any speck they find.) They did quite well for two chickens who had never drawn before, and they also never asked for an eraser.

My favorite part was the self-portrait Bessie drew. It showed how she used her feet to spread out her first bowl of ingredients into the pan. (Bessie did want me to let everyone know if they don’t have a chicken at home to help with this step, people can probably use their fingers, but it may not be as fun.)

It wasn’t my favorite part because of that though. It was my favorite part of the whole drawing because she drew herself happy, and I was so glad to know that was how she felt.

Often I worry about my chickens and whether they are happy or not. I wonder if they have a good enough life and if they have any regrets. I want them to have a life worth living. It’s just what all of us should have.

It was interesting how she drew her comb like Gracie’s comb with everything pointing upward. You see, that is not the way her comb looks. The back half of it is crooked and flops over from where she defended everyone against a predator. It happened one day when I was away at work. I have written about it before. It was when I learned to never to think of any chickens as “just chickens.”

Her comb never stood upright completely any more afterwards because of the way her head was attacked. Bessie will always be my bravest girl ever, but she has never been quite the same after that day. Though sometimes I do get glimpses of her the way she used to be….like when she was cooking…or drawing herself cooking.

Neither Gracie nor I said anything about the drawing of her comb not being exactly correct. I guess it’s just that way when you love someone.

Bessie let me add a few embellishments to her recipe drawing with crayons and watercolors.

I didn’t think she would because she had been so insistent about how she would be the one to do the recipe drawings. But I guess it’s just that way when someone loves you back.

My Life With Gracie let me see how love makes a great number of unbelievable things quite believable.

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated! Watch for Bessie’s illustrated recipe later this week and just in time for your own holiday baking adventure!

Bessie's Self-Portrait

Just Wondering…About Those Pomegranates

About Those Pomegranates

After reading my last post about chickens eating pomegranates, you may want to ask, “Do you seriously buy pomegranates for your chickens? Do you realize how expensive they are?”

Well, “Yes” and “Yes,” but I really should qualify that first one.

Last fall when pomegranates showed up in stores, I bought then to draw, not to feed to my chickens. It was really a bonus for the chickens when I learned pomegranates where fine for them to eat. (Not all things are.)

At the time I was working through a few drawing challenges I made up for myself involving composition. If I have any areas where “money is no object,” those would have to be first books and second anything interesting to draw.

One of my favorite almost unknown artists is Takashi Shuji from Japan. His pastel drawings are absolutely fascinating. He has never had any formal art training and therefore follows a set of internal compositional rules for what feels “right” to him. Takashi was born with Down’s syndrome.

About Those Pomegranates
Pastel Drawing by Takashi Shuji (with antique brown filter applied)
Pastel Drawing by Takashi Shuji (with antique brown filter applied)

A characteristic of his drawing style is how objects often touch each other or touch the edges of the paper. This makes them fit together perfectly as if there is no other way for them to be on the page. Objects seldom, if ever, overlap to help create depth the way we are taught to do in Western art.

Noticing this “rule” in his style of drawing, I tried doing this in a series of my own drawings of pomegranates…sometimes laid out in rows, as Takashi Shuji might have done…sometimes arranged in a classical Western art composition, but always with edges touching.

What surprised me from this experiment was how making all of the edges touch did not appear as a terrible compositional error. Even with Western art treatment of three-dimensional modeling, this artistic “faux pas” did not stand out as a catastrophe. Perhaps sometimes it is possible to break the rules of tradition?

Below are several of my own graphite drawings. Because these are two different mediums (his colorful pastels, my monochromatic graphite pencils), the same photo filter and matting effect have been used on all drawings (his and mine) for comparison purposes.

One Pomegranate, graphite drawing by the author (with antique brown filter applied)
Two Pomegranates, graphite drawing by the author (with antique brown filter applied)
Three Pomegranates, graphite drawing by the author (with antique brown filter applied)

As far as the chickens and Pomegranates are concerned, they get them only after I’m through drawing them! And of course, I have to draw them whole, cut in half, cut into quarters, pulled apart, and any other way I can imagine.

Even if you don’t own any chickens, you may enjoy drawing pomegranates. The challenge they present has to do with proper shading. Although they have an overall spherical shape (like an apple), they have slightly flattened faceted areas (unlike an apple) which hint at the sections inside the fruit. Balancing these two, I believe, is the key to successfully drawing pomegranates regardless of the compositional approach you select.

Trick Or Treat! Smell My Feet!

Trick Or Treat! Smell My Feet!

Between us, I think chickens have an odd sense of humor. It’s the kind of thing you either get or you don’t. For example, “Trick Or Treat! Smell My Feet!” is completely hilarious to a chicken. There doesn’t seem to be any explanation for why they find this so funny.

The above cartoon is my best rendering of Pearl’s costume from her comedy debut this past Saturday. A complete joke-by-joke account will be shared with you this Saturday.

The hot pink nail polish and lipstick were completely her doing from when I left a can of paint open while preparing the “Pearl’s Comedy Coop” set. The Carmen Miranda look-alike hat is from some unknown stash. Chickens are remarkably resourceful.

I have a feeling children may understand and appreciate chicken humor better than adults. For this and other cartoons which are presented in both Chicken and English, my suggestion is for children to read the parts in Chicken and for adults to read the parts in English.

It has been my experience that children are often able to read Chicken long before they are able to read English. Unfortunately there is no educational research yet to definitively prove this. Funding for this type of project is always unpredictable.

The ability to speak and read Chicken also seems to be a skill that disappears with age if not used. Even the simple bilingual cartoon above is presented to you only after a great deal of tutoring from one of my other chickens, Bessie. She has told me I need more work on my vowels.

In the spirit of bridging the communication gap between chickens and humans, you may wish to print and post today’s cartoon at home, at work, or anywhere you feel may need some decoration and humor! After all, tomorrow is Halloween!

Somehow I think Pearl and the others chickens help to bring back the simple, uncomplicated days of trick-or-treating from my own childhood. That was a time when mummies and pirates were the scariest costumes, and an old sheet with two holes for eyes would always be good as a ghost at the last minute. Candy was always safe, and no one enjoyed frightening children with graphic images of evil and insanity.

Thanks for reading whether you “Trick Or Treat” or not…and also whether you “Smell My Feet” or not! Be safe out there. It’s not too late to put together a Halloween costume like Pearl’s!

I will do my best to post each Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Every “Like,” “Follow,” and “Comment” is truly appreciated!

Trick Or Treat